Why is it critical to understand that website design sample work or what is called speculative work is bad
Read an article by AIGI
This essentially confirm that designing anything before designers are contracted to design it is not going to turn out well.
LightMix amongst many other professional organizations highly recommends against usage of practice of requesting of what is commonly called “speculative design work”. This means requesting design samples prior to the real start of the project.
Most professional organizations employ professional designers, which do not like to waste their professional time without compensation. Having said that, its important to note that it is not just about money. The entire premise of the logic that some types of work like competition, volunteer, pro-bono work means that the effort that design team puts into a project is assumed to have high degree of risk or done entirely at designers expense. In the professional design field, where clients expect real results and designers are to provide real services, this type of work carries significant risk to everyone as correctly stated by the AIGA article above. Indeed, if the client is expecting that website design samples for example are to be submitted before selection of a vendor, only low quality and unprofessional design work will be received. And as a result only vendors that fall into this category will be chosen leading to poor quality and bad outcome of any project.
What we strongly suggest is that the customers never attempt to save or start a project without commitment to a specific design team that has trust and authority over the project. This assumption is critical as only this puts on real requirements on the creative team to provide top quality output and produce best work without an sacrifice in quality. Being website design samples, print samples or logo samples, all clients should never expect that any of them will be done at no cost. Evaluate strength of designer portfolio, experience and references to make final judgement on the vendor, but never make it based on hastily provided samples of something that can not be done to the professional level.